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Denon AVR-2310 AV Receiver - Denon AVR-2310
The exhaustive range of audio adjustments could take days to get your head round, but thankfully Audyssey's MultEQ auto setup removes the hassle. It takes all the necessary room readings for you (using the supplied mic) in up to six listening positions and then sets the appropriate levels. The results are fine, though a little manual tweaking was required afterwards to bring the sound up to scratch, particularly the bass level.
Denon has struck gold with the remote, which cleverly puts all the frequently-used controls on one side, then buries the lesser-used keys under a flap on the back. It's big, but the intuitive layout and clear labelling keep confusion at bay.
Not only is it easy to use, but the AVR-2310 is also a masterful performer. We sat through Transformers on Blu-ray for what must have been the hundredth time, but such is the Denon's level of insight and energy that it felt like a fresh, new experience.
The Denon sets out its stall right from the movie's opening credits, lending warmth and presence to Optimus Prime's treacly voiceover. Cut to Blackout's attack on the Army base and the soundstage explodes into life, with the Denon orchestrating the carnage beautifully - rapid, biting machine gun fire rattles from the fronts and surrounds, the robot clatters around without a hint of hardness to the high frequencies, while surround steering is smooth, fast and precise. It's an invigorating listen that had me on the edge of my seat despite knowing exactly what was going to happen next.
Bass output is absolutely monstrous when needed, but remains tight and punchy. Pounding footsteps and explosions carry enough heft to shake the floor but sound nimble and sprightly, propelling the action along without bludgeoning you into submission.
Detail levels are exceptional, not only during the big action scenes but also during the movie's (few) quiet moments - background ambience and effects, like gentle robotic bleeps and the score's subtle percussion, are teased out and presented with sparkling clarity. Human dialogue is also smooth and well-rounded.
Switching to music material, the AVR-2310 demonstrates the same level of expertise. Its presentation of What The World Needs Now Is Love by Japanese jazz group Atagiin is so open and natural that the band could be in the room with you. Crisp percussion dances alongside the deep and agile double bass with perfect timing. And it goes for the jugular with Nirvana's Nevermind on CD, giving a fiery performance and conveying Kurt Cobain's voice in all its cracked, raspy beauty.
As you can probably tell, we absolutely love this receiver. And with good reason - it's packed with features, easy to use and delivers a sensational performance with movies and music, all of which makes that seemingly high price tag suddenly look pretty reasonable. And the scary thing is, the AVR-2310 isn't even the best Denon has to offer this year - its new mid-range and high-end models are just around the corner, the quality of which will be beyond belief if this is anything to go by.
Scores In Detail